Put on a Happy Face

Not all women meet the ideals of physical beauty. Yet men are more inclined to find them attractive if they show positive personality traits.

By Nicole Bode, published on January 1, 2001 - last reviewed on July 27, 2006

If your sweetheart croons, "Honey, I'd still love you if you gained
50 pounds," there's a good chance he's being sincere. Men have been known
to find physical appearance more important than personality, but they're also willing to overlook a woman's body
shape and weight if she's friendly and likeable.

A University of Central Florida study asked three groups
of male college students to rate the attractiveness of female bodies
ranging from very thin to obese. One group was given a short list of
positive adjectives about each woman, the second received negative
adjectives, and the third was given no information. The researchers found
that participants given positive personality cues were significantly more
accepting—selecting a wider range of "attractive" figures—than
those in the other groups.

Given the prevalence of body image disorders, study author Stacey
Tantleff-Dunn, director of the Laboratory for the Study of Eating,
Appearance and Health at UCF, hopes her findings will send women an
encouraging message. "Individuals who may not meet the ideals of beauty
are often considered attractive," Dunn observes. "This study supports an
important message that focusing on your personality may be a healthier
and more lasting way to increase your attractiveness."